BAHM: 2.25.17 Kameelah Janan Rasheed
Kameelah Janan Rasheed is a New York based interdisciplinary artist, writer and educator, who creates photography and video installation, large-scale text-based public works, publishing, and discursive programming. Her work deals with the democratization of archival material, familial history, “selective legibility and opaqueness as a political strategy” as well as, “black traditions of covert literacies and self-publishing.” Rasheed was born in East Palo Alto, CA in 1985, received a B.A. in Public Policy and African Studies from Pomona College in 2005 and a M.Ed. in Secondary Education from Stanford University in 2008. She has recently participated in residencies at Smack Mellon and the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, and is a faculty member at SVA in New York. In 2016, she was featured in the group exhibition/first artist-run super PAC, For Freedoms at Jack Shainman Gallery.
Much of Rasheed’s work utilizes archival material and addresses the institutional function of archives as they relate to shared and personal memory and identity construction. Pieces like No Instruction for Assembly (2013, ongoing) and On Refusal (2016) meld the personal and private materials of our lives with the public, often marginalized, records of black history. The result is a reanimation of these forgotten materials and, in the case of later iterations of No Instruction for Assembly, a living, growing archive, through viewer contribution. On Refusal is a particularly poignant piece that presents a nonlinear narrative of religious heredoxy in the black community and specifically the artist’s family. Bits of information are presented in fragmented sentences, abstract monochrome images, sound and video, that explore the, “pluralities of blackness and the interplay between legibility and opaqueness.” At the far right corner of the installation sits a stack of business cards that read, “Dear Family and Friends, From this day forward I will no longer respond to the name ‘Ricky.’ I now go by ‘Kameel Saleem Rasheed.’ Thank You.,” used by the artist’s father after his conversion from Christianity to Islam. Rasheeds work, while being undeniably autobiographical, is rooted in an activation of the viewer, to follow the artist’s train of thought and be led beyond the boundaries of the work, and also to observe the way in which the archive functions as a tool for self preservation against the erasures of colonialism.
Paper Journals Interview: Other Histories: An Interview with Kameelah Janan Rasheed
Voices in Contemporary Art Article: On Refusal: Kameelah Janan Rasheed
Walker Art Center Blog: 2016: The Year According to Kameelah Janan Rasheed
Art 21 Article on No Instruction for Assembly